By Vicky Houchin

FARMERS must accept that more livestock markets are bound to close, a former auctioneer has warned.

Livestock marts need change, and the small, old-fashioned ones must shut up shop, said former auctioneer Hugh Veitch.

Speaking at the Smithfield Show yesterday (Tuesday), Mr Veitch called for bigger and more competitive markets to offset the buying power of supermarkets.

Supermarkets are widely blamed by many farmers and auctioneers for the closure of three livestock markets this year.

The big retail chains prefer to source livestock direct from farmers rather than from auction.

Les Armstrong, vice-chairman of the NFU livestock committee, said farmers must learn to co-operate if livestock markets are to thrive in an increasingly hostile climate.

“We dont want to get end up in the position where farmers just work for one of the big buyers,” he said.

Ian Lawton of the Livestock Auctioneers Association argued that the auction system offers farmers more control over their own destiny than direct selling to supermarkets.

“Red meat is the last commodity where British retailers have not got complete control of the price,” he said.